Yesterday afternoon, eleven women between the ages of 18 and 73 performed an extraordinary protest outside the Houses of Parliament, calling for a ceasefire and an end to the blockade and genocide in Gaza.

They took their inspiration from centuries of tradition in cultures across the world, especially among Indigenous peoples where head shaving has been an expression of mourning and penance. They were also moved to act in solidarity due to reports that malnutrition and dehydration can cause hair loss and scalp infections forcing some Palestinian women to shave their heads and their children’s where lack of water prevents sanitation.

Over the period of about an hour, each woman, sometimes helped by another, used clippers to shave off all their hair, and place the locks in envelopes with various messages.

At the end, they also used ribbons to tie some hair on the parliament railings along with a sign which read “UK government is complicit with genocide in Gaza”.

More than a quarter of the Gazan population is at immediate risk of famine. More than 70% of civilian casualties are children and women, and with a collapse of infrastructure for childbirth and neonatal facilities, the rate of miscarriages and trauma are rocketing.

The women hope that their action, in grief and solidarity, will stir people and catch some attention. Locks will be sent to MPs, and some of the hair will be donated for making wigs for cancer patients.